Get Organized?Get Computerized
Ditch that peg board. Computer management systems are the best way to track and schedule jobs—as well as collect data to justify your in-plant.
Up until a few years ago, Mike Kalstein took a very hands-on approach to managing.
"We tracked jobs manually using a production board, moving pegs around," admits Kalstein, in-plant manager for the California State University at Sacramento.
That peg board has gone the way of the slide rule, replaced by a modern computer management system, which the shop uses to track its approximately 1,000 jobs per year. And Kalstein wouldn't go back for the world.
Computer management systems are designed to make your life as an in-plant manager a little easier. These systems will help you schedule jobs, track orders, estimate costs, handle chargebacks, control inventory and account for all of your work, putting this information at your fingertips and freeing you to do other things.
For instance, Kalstein has found the estimating module to be the biggest help. "We used to do the estimating manually," he says. No more.
These days, a number of companies are offering systems, so it's important to shop around and ask specific questions. Make sure the system can handle your applications.
"We met with several companies," Kalstein says. "One was a mom-and-pop organization. I wasn't comfortable bringing them into the university." Kalstein feared that going with a small, unknown company would hurt him down the line if he had its software and the company went out of business.
Another problem Kalstein faced was when companies talked over his head, offering too much technical talk and no solid answers. The in-plant's eventual choice—Avanti—provided those answers.
"Avanti came in and gave us a clear-cut, logical presentation, which was easy to understand," recalls Kalstein. Representatives answered questions without using confusing technical computer jargon. That made an impression.